Tom Cruise

I heard the Tom Cruise demanded another retraction from a tabloid the other day. Does he hold the world record for those? What about lawsuits?
—Bjorn, via the inbox

Look, Tom Cruise may be many things: A very rich member of a controversial religion, for starters. And he has said that he isn't afraid to scrap with the media, in court or out of it.

But you may be surprised to learn what I've dug up.

Yes, in legal circles, Cruise is known for his lawsuits, both threatened and realized, local attorneys confirmed to me. Has been for more than a decade.

The reputation may have started as early as 1998, when he successfully sued a British tab for implying that his second marriage, to Nicole Kidman, was a sham. A few years later a court ordered porn actor Chad Slater to pay Cruise $10 million for allegedly making false allegations about the A-lister's sexuality.

Wikipedia actually has a whole section under Tom Cruise called "Litigation."

"I've actually never lost a lawsuit," the actor told Larry King in 2001.

All that said, don't assume that Cruise enjoys threatening the little guy with legal action. Attorneys tell me that reputable attorneys never threaten to sue unless they're prepared to go all the way to court and win. And oftentimes stars demand retractions or threaten suits because—get this, legally, they kinda have to.

Yes, litigation attorney Todd Bonder tells me, "The Church of Scientology folks" such as Cruise and John Travolta "are pretty aggressive at protecting their fiefdoms, and so those people in Hollywood affiliated with the church can be pretty aggressive."

But, "If you're going to sue in California, the law requires that you first demand a retraction from the media outlet, give the media outlet a chance to retract. Otherwise, if you were to bring suit, damages would be much more limited."

In other words, Cruise's behavior in this arena may be guided more by his lawyers than his own personal preferences.

As for whether Cruise holds a "record," the answer is:


Check out a former prisoner named Jonathan Lee Riches, who was once eyeballed by the Guinness Book of World Records as being, potentially, the most lawsuit-happy guy, like, ever.

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